Exposing the Pink Tax

Ohio women can start saying their goodbyes to the “pink tax” on feminine hygiene products.

The House passed House Bill 545 on Dec. 5 of 2018 and introduced it to the Senate the following day. The bill works with independent businesses and how owners can impose their sales tax.

That’s not all, though. Rep. Brigid Kelly, D-Cincinnati, proposed to the House that it also fold in the elimination of the “pink tax.”

The “pink tax” is the feminist concept that products made for and aimed at women are taxed more. Some of the more controversial taxed products include feminine hygiene products like tampons, panty liners, hygiene napkins and menstrual cups.

The tax brings into question sexism and the concept that corporations could be intentionally targeting women. A study done by the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs shows that not only are products marketed toward women taxed more, but they are also more expensive in general.

The study also shows some of the major areas of price differences. Clothing and toys are targets, but the market that may in fact be the most affected is personal care.

Shampoos and conditioners average a 48-percent difference in price, razors average an 11-percent difference and body wash averages a 6-percent difference. While some of these differences may seem miniscule, the overall average difference in price for personal care products is 13 percent.

This 13-percent price difference can be monumental, especially for women who come from low-income households. The “pink tax” isn’t purely a tax. It’s an entire price jump, simply for being a woman.

The bill proposed by Kelly would remove the tax on such feminine hygiene products. It passed in the Ohio House of Representatives 84 to 1, with Tom Brinkman, R-Summit being the only dissenter.

Should the bill be passed in the Senate, Ohio could lose an estimated $4 million per year in sales tax revenue. This is a seemingly small fee when women are spending $78 million per year world round on these products.

Kentucky is working on a similar bill, House Bill 85, which would require public universities to provide a minimum of one type of feminine hygiene product free for students on campus.

Removing the tax is a definite step in the right direction; women do not choose to menstruate, they do it naturally. This was one of the points Kelly brought up in defense of her bill. Why punish women for something they cannot control?

When menstruating is seen as a choice, as a luxury, the picture of the feminine body is being twisted into something it’s not. Yet hygiene products meant for women’s reproductive health are taxed as if they were luxury items.

If the potential $4-million loss is a severe concern for some, it shouldn’t be. It could be quite easily reclaimed. Placing higher taxes on things such as cigarettes, alcohol, vape necessities and other products actually seen as luxury items would be a good start.

One of the best parts of this bill is the relief it would bring to women who struggle to make ends meet. Feminine hygiene products are expensive. Sales taxes only add to that expense.

Companies make them expensive because they know that, no matter what, women absolutely have to have them. They are one of those inevitable necessities in every woman’s life.

Perhaps one of the biggest upsets in this topic is that men’s razors are not taxed. They are not viewed as luxuries in the way that women’s razors, let alone feminine hygiene products, are.

It is a true testimony to the sexism and inequality that seem to be covertly embedded within society. Many people don’t even realize that there is such a thing as the “pink tax.” It’s time to expose it.

As a matter of fact, it’s beyond time to expose this injustice.

Ohio is definitely keeping injustice in mind as they fight this issue. Taking the tax down is the first step.

Holding the corporations imposing the tax for the tax accountable for their actions is next.